General principles of cellular communication
General principles of cellular communication

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

General principles of cellular communication

General principles of cellular communication


All organisms, whether unicellular or multicellular, need to respond to their ever-changing environment in order to survive and flourish. Such responses are governed by the ability of cells to sense physical changes and chemical cues occurring around them. The process of sensing and responding to extrinsic signals is often termed cellular communication, although scientists also use terms such as ‘signal transduction’ or ‘signalling’.

Cells respond to a wide range of extrinsic signals that include chemical messengers (e.g. hormones, growth factors, neurotransmitters), electrical impulses, mechanical forces, pH, heat and light.

In this free course, General principles of cellular communication, you will explore the most common paradigm for cellular communication, which is the detection of extrinsic stimuli by receptors on the surface of cells. Particular emphasis is placed on how the interaction between an extrinsic stimulus and its receptor on the cell surface subsequently causes cellular responses through the activation of specific intracellular signalling pathways. You will explore this chain of events using well-characterised examples in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course S317 Biological science: from genes to species [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .


Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371